Choosing and Maintaining Your Trailer Tires
When it comes to keeping your trailer safe around the roads in Michigan, your tires are one of the most important aspects. But how do you choose the right trailer tires, and what maintenance do they need?
Choosing Your Tires
There are so many tires out there for so many uses, so choosing the right one is critical to protecting your cargo. Get the right rating and learn the difference between radial and bias ply tires.
When it comes to types, tires are typically made in P, LT and ST. P stands for passenger, LT for light truck, and ST for special trailer. For your utility trailer, be sure you always get ST rated tires.
ST tires have thicker walls than standard P-rated tires. Their tread is also center-focused to stabilize the trailer while pulling heavy loads. P and LT tires could lead to more sway and catastrophic failure due to being overloaded.
Radial or Bias Ply?
The construction of the tire is either going to be radial or bias ply. Radial tires have steel belts that run 90 degrees to the tread center line. These typically last longer and have a smoother ride at highway speeds.
Bias ply has steel belts that run at a 30-45 degree angle to the tread center line. While these may not last as long as radial, they can handle heavier loads and offers more roadway stability.
Maintaining Your Tires
Once you have the right tires on your trailer, you want to keep them properly maintained. Failing to do so will both shorten their service life and put your trailer at risk of a tire failure.
First and foremost is keeping your tires properly inflated. This is especially important when the seasons get colder in Michigan. Unlike the tires on your car, you should keep your trailer tires inflated to the maximum pressure printed on the sidewall.
Don’t rely on a visual inspection to make sure your tires are inflated, being even a few PSI can drastically alter its ride. Keep a tire pressure gauge with you, and check your trailer’s tire pressure before you hit the road every time.
Heed Weight Limits
Not only does your vehicle and trailer have a limit, but so do each of your tires. It’s important to make sure you stay within the lowest weight limit to keep your vehicle, trailer, and cargo safe.
For your tires, each tire has a weight rating, which combine for the maximum weight for your tires collectively. If your tires have a printed limit of 2,200 lbs., the pair on a single axle have a maximum capacity of 4,400 lbs. combined.
Keep a Spare
Keep your trailer safe and keep a spare on your rig, just in case you end up with a flat. For your spare, keep a full spare onboard to ensure you can still tow your load if your tire goes flat.
When to Replace Them
Part of maintaining your tires is knowing when is the right time to get replacements. Fortunately, there are four easy ways to know if it's time to get new tires.
Low Tread Depth
First, keep an eye on your tread depth and replace them when it’s less than 3/32 of an inch. You can pick up an inexpensive tread depth gauge from your local auto parts store. Alternatively, keep a penny in your tow vehicle and use that to measure the tread depth.
Put the penny upside down in the tread with Lincoln’s head facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to get new tires.
Be cautious of tire damage that can easily lead to catastrophic failures. The easy damage to notice is puncture holes, which cause leaks in the tire. Some holes will cause a quick leak, while others will slowly leak over time.
The other kind of damage to watch for is deformities in the tire, such as bulges. This indicates the interior of the tire has failed and needs replacing. Driving with this kind of damage can quickly lead to a catastrophic failure when put under weight.
A Damaged Valve Stem
In addition to the damage to the tire itself, keep an eye open for damage to the valve stem. If these crack or get damaged, they’ll slowly leak, eventually leading to a flat tire.
The Tire is Getting Old
Beyond miles, age is the natural enemy of rubber-based tires. Rubber naturally breaks down due to ultraviolet light as well as ozone from exhaust. Add to that, the oxygen from the pressurized air can cause internal damage.
Keep your tires in a cool, dark place to extend your tires' useful life. In general, plan to replace your trailer tires ever three to five years.
Make sure you get the best tires for your trailer to have the best adventures around Michigan. Trust the experts at USA Trailers to make sure your trailer has the best tires possible.